KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In previous Black History specials on WATE 6 On Your Side, we’ve told the story of urban renewal, a move that uprooted mostly Black residents in Knoxville during the 1950s through the 1970s.
Work is now being done to make amends for the past.
According to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, there were 107 black-owned businesses before urban renewal, 15 Black churches were removed and more than 2,500 residents were displaced — with more than 70% of which were Black families.
Knoxville’s first African American vice mayor, Gwen McKenzie put forth a plan she said is a start: it’s called the “African American Equity Restoration Resolution.”
The resolution is an apology for the removal policies in the area today is home to the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum; it also calls for $100 million in funding over the next decade as an investment in the community and its people.
The $100 million will come through grant funding over a 10-year span to create opportunities for economic equity. The resolution also creates a task force that would help find and apply for that grant funding, with members of the task force to be appointed by city administration.